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Police costs were down 10% at 2013 Oyster Festival

by Larry Chowning

The cost to hire law enforcement personnel to patrol and monitor the 2013 Urbanna Oyster Festival cost $30,540, which is down 10% from 2012. Previously, police costs were asmuch as $45,000. 

The funds used by the town to pay local and area deputies comes through town license fees charged to Oyster Festival vendors. This money is collected by the Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation and forwarded to the town, said council member and festival foundation board chair Joe Heyman.

Heyman estimates vendor business fees collected from the 2013 festival were about $21,000, and meals tax revenues from the food vendors totaled about $6,000. The town also received a huge bump in meals tax revenue from year-around food businesses due to the well-attended Oyster Festival.

Rental income generated by the town marina was approximately $8,800, which is about a fifth of the marina’s total annual income. “These revenues go directly into the town coffers,” said Heyman.

Expenses to the town , which are paid through Oyster Festival funds, include $4,000 for town staff salaries related to the festival; $2,200 for temporary help for trash cleanup; $1,000 for advertising; and $3,800 for trash bags and other supplies. The total expenses to the town were about $41,000. The town bills the Oyster Festival Foundation for the difference between revenues and expenses.

Sheriff David Bushey said the reason the cost for deputies decreased is that his office has taken a “post position” rather than a “posse position” as a way to control the thousands of visitors who come to the festival. 

Bushey explained in a telephone interview that he posted deputies at key positions throughout the festival. In the past, he said, sheriffs have used groups of deputies walking and on bicycles alongside each other.

“We are using fewer deputies and plan to continue to try to do this to bring the cost down to those who run the festival,” said Bushey. “I think the festival is more pleasant when visitors don’t have to see a bunch of police in fatigues all over town.”

The cost per hour for a deputy at the festival is $30.

At the December 2013 Middlesex County Board of Supervisors meeting, board members unanimously approved a reimbursement from the Town of Urbanna for $20,340 to pay Middlesex deputies for services rendered at the 2013 festival. The total cost of hiring deputies was $30,540.

This is the second year the Town of Urbanna has had the Middlesex County Treasurer’s Office write checks directly to deputies, and take state and federal taxes out of those checks. “This way we know taxes are coming out and it’s a more proper way to handle funds going to county deputies,” said Bushey.

Prior to this, checks were written directly to deputies by the town.

The Virginia State Police monitor areas outside of town and do not take any compensation for services from the Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation, Town of Urbanna or Middlesex County. For the two days of the festival, county supervisors have granted the Oyster Festival Foundation jurisdiction one mile outside of town to regulate and monitor parking lots, food vendors and other situations created by the festival.

All the costs of the 2013 festival have not been finalized because the Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation has not received a final bill from the town, said Heyman.

posted 01.15.2014

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